Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Miss Information attempts to fill a literary void

Miss Information is once again frustrated by a patron's stubborn refusal to accept reality. Yes, she does understand that you would like to know everything about the element GE32. She even believes you when you tell her that it's a "very important isotope". This, however, does not mean that people should devote entire books to the subject. Think of the poor trees.

But what the hell, Miss Information isn't busy. She'll give it a shot.

The Old Isotope and the Sea

It was a dark and stormy night. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. It was 1886 and German chemist Clemens Winkler made a startling discovery.

"Eureka!" he exclaimed. "I have discovered a new element. Its physical and chemical properties closely resemble those of silicon!"

The element was a dark grey solid with a metallic sheen. It blinked sleepily.

"Call me Ishmael," said the element. "No, wait, that's stupid, call me Germanium."

"Um, ok," said Clemens. "You shall be positioned on the periodic table halfway between the metals and nonmetals!"

"Wow, cool," said Germanium. "I just want to say one word to you--plastics."

"In fact, you belong to the class of compounds known as metalloids," replied Clemens.

"I am a relatively poor conductor of electricity," cried Germanium. "The horror! The horror!"

"Oh, settle down," said Clemens. "You are what is known as a semi-conductor. We can increase your ability to conduct electricity by adding certain impurities such as arsenic, gallium or antimony. It is a technique known as doping."

"This is going to get me in trouble with Major League Baseball," wept Germanium.

"Stop that! There's no crying in chemistry!" said Clemens. "Just tell them you didn't inhale!"

"But I love the smell of gallium in the morning! Woe is me!" replied Germanium

"What we've got here is a failure to communicate," said Clemens.

"You talkin' to me?" asked Germanium.

"Yes, listen closely. You see doped germanium can be used to make transistors. The solid state industry will owe their success to you."

"Show me the money!" shouted Germanium.

"An element's got to know its limitations," said Clemens gently.

"I'm king of the world!" said Germanium

"Germanium, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

The End


At 2:16 PM, Blogger Cat. said...


Just lovely.

When does the movie come out?

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